Alan A. May has made available his monthly summary of some of the most important probate cases in Michigan. In this month’s summary, he discusses the case of Otto William and Margaret Anne Meyer Revocable Trust. His case review begins,
Settlors, husband and wife, signed a trust which according to its terms specifically became irrevocable upon the death of the first party. The second party had a limited power of invasion. The second party amended the trust to include additional beneficiaries. The second spouse died.
The original beneficiaries challenged the amendment to the trust saying that the trust became irrevocable and hence the amendment was invalid. The Lower Court and the Court of Appeals agreed.
Inter alia the Court of Appeals said:
- The limited right of invasion, even potentially to the right of exhaustion, does not constitute the right of amendment.
- That limited right of withdrawal does not create an ambiguity, vis-a-vis irrevocability.
- Ambiguity means that one its face, the language is capable of more than one meaning or
some extrinsic fact creates the possibility of more than one meaning.
The court defines modification based on mistake of fact and mistake of law and finds none present.